Pierre Bourdieu

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Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist and anthropologist (and an important political figure), most known for his works on habitus, the class system, and social reproduction.



Bourdieu developed the concepts of social and cultural capital. He acknowledged the symbolic influence of people with more economic capital on others, their symbolic power, but argued that cultural capital was more important, and it was what really defined the different classes. His claim is that social capital and economic capital are acquired thanks to cultural capital, though it could be argued that it's mostly economics (via inheritance).


An important part of Bourdieu's work was also the habitusWikipedia's W.svg, a set of behavior and beliefs acquired by socialization, and therefore mostly related to class.

Social reproduction[edit]

In a book with Passeron, called Les Héritiers, Bourdieu explained that most famous national schools are monopolized by "heirs of the dominant culture". As such, he considered that the National School of Administration (which was set up to democratize access to high-level positions in the civil service) just reproduces existing ideologies. This is because the entrance test is selective and hurts the school's goal of democratization, since it mostly allows people from prestigious backgrounds to enter the school.